Tennessee softball clinched just its third SEC series victory of the season on Saturday, this time against top-ranked Georgia. The Lady Vols started as strong as ever, taking games one and two 3-1 and 9-3, respectively.
The Bulldogs were able to squeak out a victory in extra innings on Sunday night to avoid the sweep, a milestone Tennessee is still chasing as the season winds to a close. Regardless, the Lady Vols’ 2-1 series victory over No. 21 Georgia is among their most impressive feats of the season. Here’s how they graded out.
The infield squad of Chelsea Seggern, Ivy Davis, Anna Fox, Ashley Morgan and Ally Shipman had an up and down week against Georgia. Game one saw heavy production from all parties on the defensive end, contributing to Rogers’ tough pitching performance from the circle. In the innings in which Rogers would slip once or twice, the infield duo of Davis and Seggern was there to clean up the damage. As a unit, game one was error-free.
While game one was spectacular from a defensive standpoint, games two and three fell considerably in efficiency. Though no infield errors were recorded, Georgia was able to score three on just five hits in the series clinching matchup. By no means is this a poor performance, but it does lack compared to game one’s clinic.
Game three saw a total of three infield errors, all of which resulted in a Georgia run. With Ashley Rogers not on her game, the infield was mostly unable to pick up the slack. The saving grace for the infield in this one was batting. The Lady Vols would end up producing eight runs in game three, five of which came off the bat of an infielder.
Ashley Morgan was practically unstoppable on the offensive end. In a cumulative effort, Morgan went 6-for-10 with six RBIs on the series, including a home run in game one to kickstart the Lady Vols’ offense.
In total, the infield went 8-for-23 from the field, on par with what is expected. Game one was all Morgan, who went 3-for-3 with a home run and RBI double. In game two, Shipman and Davis accounted for five RBIs in home runs alone, including a Davis grand slam in the fourth to all but end it for Georgia.
Overall, Tennessee’s batting was enough to beat any team on all three days. In many respects, the batting carried the offense going into game two and forced extra innings in game three as well. However, the breakdown of game three defensively, as well as mixed participation in games one and two on offense, will bring down the score slightly for the unit as a whole.
Like the infield, game one was an astounding defensive showing from the outfield. Several spectacular catches were made to keep Georgia humble in the late stages of the game, and although few balls were hit in their area, the outfielders were error-free.
In fact, the outfield did not receive a single error across all three games. Despite the infields suboptimal performance in game three, the outfield did their part and hit the throws they needed to hit while making the catches they needed to make. Kiki Milloy had an especially good outing this weekend in center field, making a few extra effort plays in game one especially.
From a batting perspective, the outfield was all over the place. In a collective effort, the unit went 1-for-8 in game one before going 3-for-9 in game two, only to regress and hit 3-for-12 in game three.
Madison Webber was the one bright spot for the outfield this weekend. The sophomore right fielder, covering for Amanda Ayala this series, went 5-for-11 with four RBIs. Webber was the only outfielder to record a hit in each game.
It goes without saying that the outfield is missing the services of Ayala, who has missed the past few weekends. Overall, without Ayala in the rotation, it’s fair to say this weekend was a success from the outfield despite a few missed opportunities at the plate.
Apart from relying on Webber to cover for Ayala, bench players played little role in this weekend’s series. In total, pinch hitters went 1-for-7 in the series, with the lone hit coming off the bat of KK McCrary in game three.
Pinch runners fared slightly better, as three separate players reached home in the pinch position.
Overall, the bench was far from problematic for Georgia, although Madison Webber fared well in her start out in right field.
Compared to series past, pitching was not a strong suit for the Lady Vols this weekend. Ashley Rogers had an adequate game one, allowing five hits in seven innings, but just one run scored on account of incredible infield play. Rogers, despite a less than ideal start to the game, pitched six amazing innings, allowing just two hits in this span to keep it a low scoring affair for the Lady Vols offense.
Game three was not Rogers’ strongest. Widely regarded as one of the top pitchers in the league, Rogers allowed nine runs in seven innings off six hits. In total, the Lady Vols ace gave up 10 runs in 14 innings.
Game two featured the best pitching of the series. Callie Turner (9-1) earned another W, allowing five hits and three runs to score in total. Despite not throwing any strikeouts, Turner’s pitching proved adequate to clinch the Lady Vols third SEC series victory of the season.
Despite Rogers’ struggles in game three, her six strikeouts in game one ultimately proved instrumental in another pair of top-25 wins for the Orange and White.
Despite mixed production from all areas, the Lady Vols were able to string together enough firepower to keep No. 21 Georgia at bay. Although consistency is a concern for Tennessee, it is obvious the Lady Vols have what it takes to make some noise, especially when Ayala returns to the rotation.